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The nice thing about a closing prayer at church is it gives you time to gather up all your stuff and get a head start on the mad rush to the restaurant. The truly adventurous churchgoer might even take advantage of all those closed-eyed people and bolt for the door when no one’s looking. Pity the poor benediction. It’s no more than a holy starter's gun: ready, set, amen, go!

But what if the benediction is filled with revelation and life? What if the Holy Spirit has inspired life-changing words available to anyone with ears to hear?

We have at least one example of a life-giving benediction buried near the back of the book. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, speaks words of life over his original hearers, and these words are life-giving still today:

Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (vs 24-25)

Before we turn the page and rush into the Apocalypse, perhaps we can discover some of the revelation in this short good-bye prayer.

He is able to keep us from falling. This is an amazing comfort! Jude reminds us that part of God's greatness is not only that he can remove our guilt, he is also able to keep us from falling. Do we dare believe it? To walk with him means becoming the kind of person able to walk uprightly before him.

Presented before God — without fault!  As we are learning to walk free from stumbling, God is actively taking care of those moments when we do stumble. How to you react to this statement: “The day is coming when you must stand before God.” It should be a source of joy because we can have the confidence that he himself will present us faultless. So what’s to worry about? He teaches us how to walk and repairs our missteps — the best of both worlds.

With great joy. Today, like every day for a student of Jesus, we are reminded that the end of our journey is joy, even great joy, or as one translation says, exceeding joy. If this is my destination, why shouldn't I grow more joyful with each step?

The author of these three assurances is God, our Savior, who has the glory, majesty, power and authority to bring it all to pass. He has proven it in Jesus Christ, and Jude reminds us this is so, but only if we stay for the benediction — the good speaking. Who will speak good over you today? Your brother, Jude — who was also the Lord’s brother. Peace!

Ray Hollenbach helps pastors and churches navigate change. He's the founder of DEEPER Seminars, weekend leadership retreats focused on discipleship in the local church. His newest book is Deeper Grace, a guide to the connection between grace and spiritual maturity. Ray currently lives in central Kentucky, coaching and consulting church leaders. You can visit his blog at Students of Jesus.

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Andrew Moffatt

commented on Jan 18, 2013

Thanks Ray, I so enjoy writing benedictions, what a great way to sum up a sermon, a great way to encourage and send forth a congregation. Jude great passage I even really like it in the King James which is saying something!

Tony Webster

commented on Jan 18, 2013

I have always felt that the benediction is one of the most effective parts of a service.I would like to ask one question about the section you have written on 'presented faultless'. Are you saying that we will avoid judgement because our place in heaven is guarenteed. Tony Webster.Minister of Wesleyan Church,Finedon,England

James Widmer

commented on Jan 18, 2013

I appreciate your emphasis on the importance of benediction. I was dismayed, however, that you chose a doxology (a very good thing also!) rather than a benediction. If the last item in the liturgy is labeled "benediction" we should be careful to deliver what we promise. It is not time for a "closing prayer" but a real blessing given from God through God's servant. God bless you in your ministry. Jim Widmer, Kenmore, NY

Oladipo Ajayi

commented on Jan 19, 2013

Thank you for this reminder. I'm amazed how some popular senior pastors end their services with such statements like, "you're dismissed" or "see you next week". I believe God gave Moses a good one in Numbers 6:24-26: "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.", Dipo Ajayi, Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

Pastor R.a.hinds

commented on Jan 20, 2013

So far, I've found and used about 20 different benebictions over the years. Invariably there's one that is within the current chapter, the preceeding or following chapter, or certainly one in the book from which the current sermon is coming. Listen to the Holy Spirit and he'll make it spring out at you. amen

Ben Clinton

commented on Jan 20, 2013

Pastor Ben Clinton says... Thank you for this reminder. It is a pointer to the fact that the bible way must be adhered to.

Charles Wallis

commented on Jan 28, 2013

I like the idea of ending a sermon or service with a blessing. However, sometimes it needs to end with solemn repentance. I thought this article might say more about why or how important a good closing blessing is. Still thanks for the reminder.

Rev Roselyn J Pennick

commented on Oct 21, 2013

I am very concerned about the benediction, I sit in church services and watch how folk leave before they receive the benediction and so I can relate to your message. I feel that as a servant of God's I must try to help others see what they miss by not receiving it. Thank you for your overall view. P.S. Jude 1:24-25happens to be one of my favorite. May God continue to bless you!

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